South China Sea

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South China Sea
Locatie Zuid-Chinese Zee.PNG
Chinese name
Abbreviation 南海
Long characters 南海
Pinyin Nán Hǎi
Alternative Chinese name
Abbreviation 中国 南海
Long characters 中國 南海
Pinyin Zhōngguó Nán Hǎi
Abbreviation 南中国海
Long characters 南中國海
Pinyin Nán Zhōngguó Hǎi
Vietnamese name
Quốc Ngữ Biển Đông
Chữ Nôm 匾 東
Thai name
Thai ทะเลจีนใต้
IPA tʰáʔlēː tɕīːnáʔ tɑ̂i
RTGS Thale Chin Tai
Japanese name
Kanji 南 シ ナ 海
Kanji 南 支那 海 obs.  1
Kana み な み シ ナ か い
Hepburn Minami Shina Kai
Filipino name
Tagalog Dagat Kanlurang Pilipinas
Alternative Filipino name
Tagalog Dagat Luzon
Malay name
Bahasa Malaysia According to China Selatan
Bahasa Indonesia According to Tiongkok Selatan
Alternative Malay name
Bahasa Indonesia According to Natuna Utara
Mar de China Meridional - BM WMS 2004.jpg
South China Sea
Elevation relief
South China Sea with islands

The South China Sea is part of the China Sea and a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean in Asia . In the southwest it borders the Gulf of Thailand . To the northwest lies the Gulf of Tonkin .

Designations in languages ​​of the region: Chinese  南海 , Pinyin Nán Hǎi ("South Sea"), 中國 南海  /  中国 南海 , Zhōngguó Nán Hǎi or 南中國海  /  南中国海 , Nán Zhōngguó Hǎi , Vietnamese Biển Đông ("East Sea"), Thai ทะเลจีนใต้ , Thale Chin Tai ("South China Sea"), Japanese 南 シ ナ 海 Minami Shina Kai , ("South China Sea"), tagalog Dagat Luzon ("Luzon Sea") or Dagat Kanlurang Pilipinas ("West Philippine Sea"), as well as Malay according to China Selatan , Laut Tiongkok Selatan ("South China Sea") or Laut Natuna Utara ("North Natuna Sea").


The South China Sea covers an area of ​​3,685,000 km². At an average depth of 1,060 meters, this results in a water volume of 3,907,000 km³. The greatest depth is in the China Sea Basin and is 5016 meters.

The sea is bounded to the north by China , to the west by the Indochinese Peninsula and the Malay Peninsula , to the east by the islands of Taiwan , Luzon , Palawan and Borneo .

Neighboring states are the People's Republic of China , the Republic of China on Taiwan , the Philippines , Malaysia , Brunei , Indonesia , Singapore and Vietnam .

Adjacent seas and marine areas are:

Islands in the South China Sea are:

  • Côn Đảo : in the southwest off the coast, belongs to Vietnam
  • Dongsha Islands / Pratas Islands: largely submerged reef in the north, under the control of the Republic of China
  • Hainan : largest island in the north, belongs to the People's Republic of China
  • Natuna Islands and Anambas Islands : in the southwest, belong to Indonesia
  • Paracel Islands : Atolls between Vietnam and Hainan, under the control of the People's Republic of China, claimed by Vietnam
  • Scarborough Reef : some rocks to the east, not far from Luzon , under the control of the People's Republic of China, claimed by the Philippines
  • Spratly Islands : a large number of small islets in the southeast, controlled and claimed by various states
  • Zhongsha Islands / Macclesfield Bank: largely submerged reef east of the Paracel Islands, belongs to the People's Republic of China

Some shallows can also be mentioned, which are also claimed:

  • James Shoal: off Borneo in the south
  • Luconia Shallows (also Luconia Reefs ): are sometimes also counted among the Spratly Islands, north of the James Shallows
  • Truro Shoal: north of the Scarborough Reef

There are numerous other islands just off the coasts of the respective countries, for example Pulau Tioman .

1 Historical writing, obsolete today. The term "Shina" - 支那 or シナ "is a historical Lehn designation for China from the Sanskrit The use of the stand-alone concept." Shina "- 支那 " with the kanji notation is today both in China and in Japan as offensive or offensively. Due to abuse and use of the term at the time of World War II on the part of Japan this designation is for China today in Asia burden, especially in the countries concerned, historically.

Territorial disputes

The affiliation of many of the islands in the South China Sea is controversial between the neighboring countries. There are repeated incidents, especially in the Spratly Islands (between the People's Republic of China and Vietnam) and Paracel Islands , but also at the Scarborough Reef (between the Philippines and the People's Republic of China). The reason for this is its strategic importance as a supply route for East Asia . In addition to assumed energy resources and fish stocks, some of the most important international and regional shipping routes are concentrated here .

In 2009, the People's Republic of China submitted a map to the United Nations with the so-called “nine-dash line” and wanted to establish historical claims on large parts of the South China Sea. China's claims are in contrast to the UN-negotiated Convention on the Law of the Sea , which China joined in 1996. This regulates the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone and takes into account inhabited and habitable islands, but not uninhabitable reefs and rocks.

In April 2012, there was a skirmish between Filipino and Chinese ships at Scarborough Reef, which escalated into a crisis between the two states involved. In June 2012, Vietnam passed a new shipping law, the validity of which also includes the disputed area around the Spratly and Paracel Islands. A clarification of the different claims of the neighboring states would be possible through an arbitration procedure of the International Court of Justice . However, this is rejected by China.

The Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. campaigned for support in the territorial dispute with China in February 2014: In an interview with the New York Times , he drew parallels with the extradition of the Sudetenland to Germany in 1938 ( Sudeten crisis ).

In 2014, from May to July, China carried out test drillings with the Haiyang Shiyou 981 deep-sea drilling rig in the disputed waters far south of Hainan Island. As a result, Chinese and Vietnamese ships clashed and anti-Chinese riots broke out in Vietnam.

After China had turned some reefs into artificial islands, the US demonstratively sent its destroyer Lassen in front of the Spratly Islands at the end of October 2015, showing that it did not recognize a Chinese claim to these islands.

In July 2020, the US Navy sent warships on so-called Freedom of Navigation voyages into the waters claimed by China. Washington thus demonstrated that it does not accept the so-called nine-dash line in the South China Sea, which is officially claimed by China as a land border. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China's territorial claims illegal. The US warships operating in the sea area in July 2020 include the two aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan with their aircraft carrier combat groups , each with two guided missile cruisers , two to three guided missile destroyers , two hunting submarines and a logistical supply ship .

Geostrategic importance

In addition to China, Taiwan , Japan and South Korea as well as the USA have geostrategic interests in the South China Sea as their allies. About 80 percent of the oil deliveries in northeast Asia pass through the South China Sea. China suspects around 213 billion barrels of oil and 900 trillion cubic meters of natural gas under the sea floor. An economic powerhouse has emerged around the sea; the sum of the gross domestic products (GDP) of these countries exceeds the GDP of India. Many of the states are members of ASEAN . Even India has interests in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. India's interests partly diverge from those of China and the USA. Some states in the region have or are arming. China has expanded its naval base in Sanya in the north of the South China Sea and created artificial islands.

Claims in the South China Sea;  the Spratly Islands area is marked separately

See also

Web links

Commons : South China Sea  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Donald G. Groves, Lee M. Hunt: Ocean World Encyclopedia. McGraw Hill, 1980, ISBN 0-07-025010-3 . Chapter South China Sea (pp. 356–358).
  2. Term shina - し な, シ ナ, 支那: (English, Japanese) [1] In:, accessed on May 20, 2019 - Online
  3. term shina -しな,シナ,支那: (German, Japanese) [2] In: Wadoku , accessed on May 20, 2019 - Online
  4. Term zhina - 支那: (Chinese, English) [3] In:, accessed on May 20, 2019 - Online
  5. Term zhina - 支那: (Chinese) [4] In:, accessed on May 20, 2019 - Online
  6. Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt: China's expansion into the sea. In: Le Monde Diplomatique. November 2012; Online query on December 18, 2012
  7. Nils Kadritzke: Note on the law of the sea. As an info box for: Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt: China's expansion into the sea. In: Le Monde diplomatique . November 2012
  8. Philippine Leader Sounds Alarm on China
  9. ^ FAZ: Philippine President on China: How Hitler's Reach for the Sudetenland
  10. Michael T. Klare: Treasure hunt in deepest waters. In: Le Monde diplomatique. February 2015, accessed February 26, 2015
  11. ^ Article in the FAZ of July 16, 2014, accessed on February 28, 2015
  12. Spiegel article from October 27, 2015, accessed on October 29, 2015
  13. An overview of the China-USA confrontation Focus from July 25, 2020, accessed on July 25, 2020
  14. USA intensifies dispute with China over South China Sea of July 14, 2020, accessed on July 25, 2020
  15. South China Sea issue explained. Retrieved February 1, 2013 .
  16. Urs Wolderlin: Southeast Asia's new self-confidence. The standard , accessed February 1, 2013 .
  17. December 21, 2012: Anjana Pasricha: India, ASEAN Upgrade Strategic Partnership. Voice of America , accessed February 1, 2013 .
  18. a b see also December 21, 2018 / Christoph Hein: Pekings Landnahme
  19. ^ Felix F. Seidler: Maritime Power Shifts in the Indo-Pacific Area: Geopolitical and Strategic Trends. In: Kiel analyzes on security policy. No. 33, January 2013 (Ed. Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel)
  20. ^ Robert D. Kaplan : The South China Sea Is the Future of Conflict. Foreign Policy , accessed February 1, 2013 .
  21. June 11, 2014: China is building artificial islands off the Philippines
  22. February 24, 2016: China moves fighter planes to disputed island (→ Woody Island , see also Spratly Islands )

Coordinates: 12 °  N , 113 °  E